Discover what to look for when shopping for the world's most coveted precious metal
Whether you're adding to an everyday jewellery collection or splashing out on something for a special occasion, Dubai is one of the best destinations in the world for purchasing gold and fine jewellery. From its traditional souks to glossy luxury stores, the emirate is known for its beautifully crafted gold pieces and competitive prices. We asked industry insiders about the language of gold and what to look out for.
All about karats
A karat is the unit used to measure the purity of gold: the higher karatage signifying a purer gold. The highest possible ranking is 24-karat gold, otherwise known as pure gold and most commonly sold in coins or bars as the metal is too soft for jewellery. Dubai jewellers most commonly use 22-karat for chains, bangles and plain rings, and the more durable 18-karat gold for diamond rings and other precious stone-studded pieces.
What are you paying for?
As a traded commodity, gold goes through constant price fluctuations, and that price makes up roughly 80 to 90 per cent of the final piece's price. Researching the metal's current price will give you a good base for your desired piece's market worth. Manjari Khatwani, of family-owned Khushi Jewellers (Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai, +971 4 351 1166) recommends consulting Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group - dubaicityofgold.com - first. “Although retailers are free to set their own price, seldom will they vary from the published rates,” Khatwani says. Gold jewellery is then sold according to its weight, and a labour charge is added depending on the intricacy of the design.
The UAE recently introduced a 5% value added tax (VAT) on purchases, but buying gold in Dubai is still considered to be a great deal cheaper compared to other countries in the world.
The real deal
Specialising in 22-karat gold jewellery in Arabic, Turkish and Indian designs, Amina Mohamad Ali from Zaiba Jewels (27 Al Daghaya Street, Deira, +971 4 226 4212) says that the city's eagle-eyed regulators keeps trade both fair and competitive. “Dubai as a destination for gold is synonymous with trust and purity,” she says. “The industry here is governed by strict regulations and a code of conduct which provides transparency and protection to the buyer.”
Found your perfect piece? In addition to the itemised invoice, remember to request the digital authentication certificate – something Dubai gold dealers are obliged to provide on request – which will specify the karats of the gold, the weight of actual gold in the jewellery, the weight of the stones used, and the cost of the labour for the jewellery. With this, your new purchase can be authenticated and valued anywhere in the world.
In Dubai, designs with a cultural and heritage focus are sourced from around the world to cater to the wide tastes and expectations of a very global customer base. Zaiba Jewel's Ali is seeing a resurgence of more traditional and ethnic designs, which she identifies as stemming from a greater appreciation and respect for workmanship and heritage.
As one of Dubai's oldest family-owned gold retailers, dealing from their Meena Bazaar corner in Bur Dubai, Khushi Jewellers is used to handling requests from jewellery lovers across cultures. “We specialise in Polki, bridal, and Indian antique jewellery,” explains Khatwani. Indian antique jewellery is one of the most sought-after categories in terms of value as they exhibit such intricate craftsmanship and are popular with the pre-loved market. Such pieces also have heritage appeal and are often expected to be passed down through generations.
However, the Old Dubai store also stocks increasingly popular lightweight Singaporean, Malaysian and Turkish gold jewellery, designed for everyday wear. “During the Diwali season, customers will purchase jewellery for auspicious or festive reasons, and these purchases will usually be lightweight pieces,” says Khatwani.
Karim Merchant, Group CEO and MD of Pure Gold Jewellers (City Centre Deira, +971 4 239 4385) reports that his group has also seen more demand for gold jewellery of a lesser weight, with delicate chains and slimmed down bracelets replacing the heavier rings and thick bangles, which gives customers a chance to select a design that won’t break the bank.
Not that Dubai doesn’t see its fair share of extravagant purchases. Pure Gold Jewellers stock pieces valued at US$1 million, and among Zaiba's largest order was a two-kilogramme custom gold necklace for a London-based client.
Looking to celebrate Diwali in Dubai? Read our guide on the best events and activities, or shop for the latest jewellery collections at stores in the city's best shopping malls.